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Zero Tolerance

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  23 Feb 2018 12:00 AM GMT

These are still early days to know exactly what transpired at Sunderbori area in Guwahati adjacent to Assam Engineering College campus on Wednesday midnight, but the shameful incident fits into a disturbing pattern. Some 300 AEC hostellers, many of them inebriated and armed with rods, sticks, broken beer bottles and sharp objects, barged into a wedding ceremony when the sacred rites were being performed. They vandalised the reception venue, beat up guests and reportedly stched golden chains and other valuables; even the bridegroom, the bride and her parents were not spared. After the nearby police outpost failed to control the situation, the CRPF had to be called in. An FIR has been lodged, a few AEC hostel inmates arrested and the AEC authority too has instituted a probe. There are conflicting reports — some onlookers allege the trouble broke out after a few wedding guests thrashed rowdy AEC hostellers for eve-teasing, while others allege the fracas actually began when the driver-handyman duo of a dumper refused to pay goonda tax to AEC hostellers, fought with them and then took refuge in the wedding venue. Apart from the looting and violence, the allegations of extortion (to fund liquor habit) must be taken very seriously. If a section of students is systematically indulging in such crimil activities, they must be found out, expelled and punished. No leniency should be shown to louts who bring disgrace to their educatiol institution. If it is a prestigious institute like AEC now, it has been so earlier with Cotton College on different occasions. Memories are still fresh of sections of Cotton hostellers smashing windshields of Uber-Ola cars near Guwahati railway station, manhandling people at ATMs and going on the rampage to keep open a stall purveying local brews during a college fest. The common motif in many such allegations is of rising alcoholism among a section of students. It is but a tural corollary if some of them have begun collecting goonda tax to stay merry with the bottle. The Assembly has now unimously passed an amendment bill to tighten up the Assam Excise Law, 2000, after adding more stringent provisions. Anyone found drunk at a public place will be fined Rs 5,000, while those causing public disorder under the influence of alcohol will be jailed for 3 months and fined Rs 10,000. Successive governments in Assam have made no secret of giving a high place to liquor in order to keep the excise revenue flowing in; ministers have been waxing eloquent on marketing local brews with ‘heritage’ tag and popularising these outside; strenuous efforts are made to circumvent court restrictions on liquor vends, even on those near educatiol institutions. The new tougher law passed by Assam Assembly to bring some sobriety into the public drunkenness mece is therefore highly welcome. It is up to the police administration to implement the law with rigorous checking. If students are found involved, concerned institutiol authorities should summarily take tough action under a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy.

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